As I live in deepest North Wales it’s not often I get invited to new product launches and the like, but this week was an exception. This week I’d received an invite to what my teen dubbed a “wild mushroom party”. Yes, it conjures all kinds of images but off I went on a wet and windy evening to Beddgelert, home of The Mushroom Garden, one of Wales’s, if not the UK’s foremost wild mushroom producers. I also dragged along the other half and a friend staying with me from London. They are both food fans so really needed no dragging!
Nantmor mushrooms grow and sell fresh cultivated shiitake and oyster mushrooms and a variety of other foraged seasonal wild mushrooms. If you are not lucky enough to live close by, they also sell a variety of dried mushrooms and antipasto via their online shop.
I’m sure you regular readers out there will already be familiar with The Mushroom Garden. I have blogged about them before, I use their produce a lot and a little while back we even joined forces to offer a ‘grow-your-own’ block as a prize. I don’t need to say then that I was very excited about spending an evening with them trying out their new range of products.
This year The Mushroom Garden have certainly branched out. The evenings tasting menu offered guests the opportunity to try mushroom caviar, shiitake beer (made by A small micro brewery run by Rob Linford), antipasto and Umami powder. I remember a couple of years ago when Laura Santini brought out her Taste No.5 (Umami paste) it was all the rage, but many people found they were intolerant to some of the ingredients, well this is a more natural, concentrated, flavoursome, versatile alternative, made in collaboration with Halen Mon salt.
We tasted everything from mushroom caviar canapes (great combination of flavours, herbs and fab as a taster on oatcake), mushroom ravioli (light, delicately flavoured), ballotine of chicken wrapped in parma ham and stuffed with the mushroom caviar (beautifully tender chicken, the mushrooms worked very well as a stuffing), beef, shiitake and purple moose pie (lovely puffy pastry, and great robust flavour from the Purple Moose) and finally Umami chocolate. The powders versatility was amply demonstrated by Welsh specialists Cariad chocolates, who added Umami powder to dark chocolate to produce a sweet, salty stunningly decorated mouthful. It ticked every box for me!
Ballotine of chicken
Beef, shiitake and Purple Moose pie
I wasn’t convinced by the mushroom beer, but then I’m not really an ale fan. The other half liked it. He could taste the slight hint of mushroom, just a note in the background and not overpowering, but at 5.1% he couldn’t have as much as he would have liked as he was driver on duty!
My friend was similarly impressed with all the produce and has ordered a job lot of antipasto to take back to India with her at the end of the month!
To contact Rob Linford’s micro-brewery email Rolant.firstname.lastname@example.org